My younger brother was participating in fancy dress competition. When I suggested him to become a lawyer for the same, he said, “I don’t like black and that doesn’t suit me too, I think I should go for a doctor, white gives a feel that you will never understand”. I was awestruck to such an answer from a 12-year-old kid. But that raised the question in my head too. Why do doctors wear white coats and lawyers black? Is it that profession that asks them to do so… or it’s something else? Don’t our Indian Lawyers look weird wearing that black and white uniform. What is the mystery behind it?
I thought about it a lot, searched and reached to this conclusion. Perhaps doctors wear white because they have to remain neat and clean and white signifies health and hygiene. But what about lawyers? Why specifically black for them? “Google devta” that has answers for everybody’s question gave my answer too and here it is.
Indian Lawyer Uniform Dates Back To 17th Century:
As for lawyers, one version is that this dress code dates back to at least the 17th century. When Queen Mary II died of smallpox in 1694, her ‘widower’, the bisexual King William III ordered all judges and lawyers to attend court wearing black gowns as a token of public mourning for the queen. The order was never formally rescinded. However, lawyers liked and adopted the uniform as it gave them a distinct intimidating presence in court. So that is the only reason why our Indian Lawyers wear black and white uniform? Continue reading to get yourself amazed about this mystery!
Lawyers In Afghanistan And Iran:
You will be astonished to know in Afghanistan and Iran, the chief justice wears a white turban and black gown. In India, the Advocates Act lays down details of the dress code, but aberrations started surfacing when some women started wearing printed saris in court. Women lawyers in India can wear saris, shalwar and now trousers, but certainly not jeans. They are not expected to wear loud jewelry or bright lipstick — things that would distract attention in the courtroom.
Likewise, the dress codes have been modified slightly in other countries as well to conform to local cultural requirements, values, and traditions. True, there must have been some rationale behind the choice of white for doctors and black for the lawyers. White for the doctors is okay. But I think in India’s tropical climate, perhaps a lighter shade would have been ideal for lawyers.
It looks incongruous that doctors who normally work in cool environs were given the advantage of wearing the white coat and the poor lawyers who sweat it out in the open told to wear the dark black coat! Turning up the heat…It is common knowledge that while white reflects heat, black absorbs it. Most regions in India experience moderate to severe heat conditions, the euphemism for scorching heat and dusty hot winds under a blazing sun. It is only the northern states bordering the Himalayas that experience rosy to chilly winters for only about three to four months a year.
During the summers, even ordinary people, wearing white or light shade clothes perspire heavily in temperatures hovering between 38 and 48 degrees Celsius. One can easily imagine the plight of lawyers, attired in black coats and striped grey trousers. It is a fact is that some weather-beaten lawyers, who perspire heavily, are ignorant of the fact that the back of their coat bears the odd imprint of their sweat — a proof of their hard labor. One could claim that it is not the advocate’s sweat, but blood.
Some people wear seersucker shirts to hide such embarrassing situations, but it does not always help. It would not be out of place to mention that in most cases, courtrooms and the adjoining places only in superior courts are air conditioned. Other courts that constitute the majority continue to function in the old fashion, served by air coolers subject to availability of water.
The same way, the comfort of air-conditioned chambers is enjoyed by only privileged advocates who function from officially allotted rooms or shared accommodation in metro cities. But in most of the districts, many lawyers sit under tinned or thatched roofs and even under trees, swept by hot winds — and don’t forget, wearing a black coat. The lawyer’s assistant and his clients sit on a wooden Takht (platform). At the end of the day, the lawyer’s chair is chained to the Takht to prevent its theft!
No such problems for white-clad doctors performing their job in the safe confines of a hospital or a private clinic. I am not being superstitious and am not at all suggesting that people who lean on white are luckier than those who wear black. Not at all!